When we think of inventions that changed the world, our minds go to things like the airplane, invented by the Wright brothers, the iPhone by Steve Jobs, the internet and many other things. Many of these inventions were by men, but what about women- more so women of color? Did they not make any contributions to history? Since it is Women’s history month, let us look at some women inventors you probably have not heard of.
Dr Patriciah Bath– Laserphaco Probe
Cataracts cause more than 30% of all blindness cases in the world. Eye surgery is a delicate process, when mishandled, could result in permanent blindness to the patient. Dr Bath invented the Laserphaco Probe- a quick and almost painless removal of cataracts. It is a surgical tool that uses a laser to vaporize cataracts via a tiny 1-millimeter insertion into a patient’s eye. . Millions of people’s eyesight have been saved through this invention.
Valerie Thomas- Illusion Transmitter
Valerie was a physicist, inventor, and NASA data analyst. She invented the Illusion Transmitter, which produces an optical illusion of 3D images; this proceeded to become the premise for more advanced TV screens and modern 3D technology. If you enjoy going to theaters to watch movies in 3D, you can thank Valerie for the experience!
Sarah E Goode- Folding Bed
She was the second known African American woman to receive a United States Patent. Her folding cabinet bed helped people who lived in tight housing efficiently utilize their limited living space. This bed could be folded up to look like a desk with room for storage and was the precursor to today’s known Murphy’s bed.
Alice Ball- First successful treatment for Leprosy
She was the first African American and the very first woman to graduate with an M.S. degree in chemistry in 1915, from the University of Hawaii. As a laboratory researcher, Ball worked extensively to develop a successful treatment for those suffering from Hansen’s disease (leprosy). Her research led her to create the first injectable leprosy treatment using oil from the chaulmoogra tree, which up until then, was only a moderately successful topical agent that was used in Chinese and Indian medicine.
Marie Van Britter Brown- First home security system
Inspired by the delay in arrival by the police to her crime-stricken neighborhood, she invented the first home security system. Marie wanted to find a way to view who was outside the house from any room and decided a wireless television system would work best. To do this, she used a radio-controlled wireless system that could stream the video to any television in the house. Along with the video system, Marie and her husband created a two-way microphone system that would allow for communication between the family and the person at the door.
Her invention revolutionized home security and we have her to thank for increased security in our homes.
The theme for this women’s history month is breaking the bias. We can break the bias by showing that women too have made tremendous contributions towards the advancement of science and technology!
By Wairimu Karen